[In 1999 I was hired by a friend of mine to research and write the text for a book on the history of the marketing and advertising of Lucky Strike cigarettes. The project was abandoned: here is what remains of an initial draft of some of it. Alas, there is nothing here on the Green Ball.]

The Story of Lucky Strike


Bernays Intro

In 1928 Hill hired Edward L. Bernays to head up public relations for American Tobacco. Today Bernays is — somewhat contentiously — referred to as the father of public relations. Certainly, there is no doubt Bernays set the tone (the techniques and philosophies) for much of what has become corporate public relations. (He also had the good fortune to long outlive anyone else who might have claimed the title.) The title of Larry Tye's recent biography gives Bernays a more fitting honour: The Father of Spin.

            Bernays was born in 1891 in Vienna. (Sigmund Freud was his uncle, but more on that later.) After graduating from Cornell — he was a disinterested student of agriculture — Bernays began to work as co-editor for the Medical Review of Reviews. He established the novel marketing approach of distributing free copies of the Review to most of America's 137,000 licensed physicians. The journal also took up the practice of having experts state their positions on health controversies.

            In 1915, two months after beginning work with Medical Review, Bernays and his partner made the rather bold step of publishing a glowing review of the play Damaged Goods by French playwright Eugene Brieux. The play was about a syphilitic man who fathers a syphilitic child — too controversial in topic and treatment to hope for an American production. On hearing that leading actor Richard Bennett (Joan Bennett's father) wished to present it, Bernays sent a note: "The editors of the Medical Review of Reviews support your praiseworthy intention to fight sex-pruriency in the United States by producing Brieux's play Damaged Goods. You can count on our help."

            Bennett took him up on his offer and Bernays found himself underwriting the production, though he had meagre financial resources and little hope the New York censors would allow the play to run. So Bernays began a public relations campaign that would simultaneously raise funds and keep the play censor-proof. He formed the first of his lobby groups, the Sociological Fund Committee, and pitched the play as a cause rather than a controversy. For four dollars and their moral/philosophical support, committee members got a ticket to the show. Hundreds of cheques poured in, as well as testimonials from John D. Rockefeller Jr., Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as Dr. William Jay Schieffelin, whose company had recently acquired American rights to a syphilis treatment.

            The play was an enormous success, despite being generally reviewed as ponderously boring. But more importantly, the success of establishing a distinguished front group ensured that Bernays and the soon-to-be burgeoning public relations field would employ this technique over and over.


Bernays' First Principle

In the next few years Bernays worked as a publicity agent for Klaw and Erlanger, one of America's largest and most prestigious theatrical booking agencies. His job was to ensure Broadway productions became hits. Bernays' approach was to use the techniques that had worked so well with Damaged Goods and extend them in various — often unlikely — directions. He also handled Caruso's tour of America, as well as Diaghilev's Ballet Russe. (He found working for the Ballet, with its highly complex sexual and romantic relationships, an education. As he wrote in his autobiography, "I never had imagined that the interpersonal relations of the members of a group could be so involved and complex, full of medieval intrigue, illicit love, misdirected passion and aggression.")

            But by now it was the eve of World War One and Bernays was called into service for the government's Committee on Public Information. Although only a young staffer, a press release he sent on the eve of 1918's Paris Peace Conference has been credited with botching the preceedings. At any rate, Bernays now had a taste for public policy. "I knew that musical and theatrical press-agentry and publicity would not satisfy me, after my experiences in the broader theater of world affairs. I was intent on carrying forward what I had learned in my work with Damaged Goods, the Russian Ballet, Caruso and the Committee on Public Information." It was at this time Bernays first articulated what might be considered the first principle of public relations: hitching a private, corporate interest to a public one.


Psychology of Women Smokers

Bernays' assignment was to have more women smoke more Lucky Strike cigarettes. As Bernays put it, "Hill became obsessed by the prospect of winning over the large potential female market for Luckies. 'If I can crack that market, I'll get more than my share of it,' he said to me one day. 'It will be like opening a new gold mine right in our front yard.'"

            Bernays divided this objective into two separate agendas: to make smoking more attractive to women, and to make women smoking, particularly in public, socially acceptable. The fact that neither agenda was focused solely on the Lucky Strike brand was a bone of contention between Bernays and American Tobacco — but then virtually all of Bernays activities for the company were focused on changing larger patterns of societal behaviour rather than merely shaping buying habits or brand loyalties. That was the responsibility of the advertisers.

            To address the first agenda — how to make smoking more attractive to women — he thought the young disciplines of psychology and, particularly, psychoanalysis might be of service. It was taken for granted that smoking was a masculine pursuit, natural and normal for a man but unnatural, even perverse, for a woman. Smoking for a woman must therefore involve a "replacement of normal cravings." Bernays set out to determine what this substitution of desire might involve, what "normal" object the perverse cigarette might best replace, and by what mechanisms. With this knowledge he might have the ability, the power, to easily shape the behaviour patterns of the entire society for the benefit of his corporate clients.

            Here is a draft of a letter to be sent to various scientists concerned with human behaviour. As it succinctly sketches out his areas of concern, it's quoted here in full:


It is claimed that one of the most striking characteristics of the Modern American woman is her desire to approximate a masculine ideal, both in her intellectual activities, and in her body type. Alfred Adler, the Viennese psychiatrist has called this striving for manlikeness the "masculine protest." Some of the external evidences of the "masculine protest" are the greater interest of women in sports, politics, and business; in masculine dress and coiffure; in certain so-called mannish habits such as the use of alcohol and tobacco.


Some of these expressions of the "masculine protest" involve important distortions and changes of normal modes of living, producing far-reaching antagonisms to normal physiologic cravings and normal biologic growth-patterns. The mental conflicts which arise from these antagonisms are psychologically interesting. The present questionnaire is designed to correlate the data of various groups of physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and biologists. The important points are these: 1. Can normal physiologic and biologic cravings be successfully annihilated by a mental tendency? 2. Can this annihilation or modification be effected by the substitution of artificially formed habits or cravings? 3. Does this substitution cause deleterious mental or physical changes?

Your answer to these and the following group of questions is desired, together with any comment which may throw new light on the problem.


1. Do you believe that the American woman of today is striving consciously or unconsciously, to be like a man?

2. What percentage of American women, roughly, voice an active "masculine protest" in your opinion?

3. Do you believe that the present fad for dieting, weight reduction, and the cultivation of the "boyish figure" among American women is an expression of the "masculine protest"?

4. Do you believe that the expressions mentioned in question 3 are mentally and physically harmful? To what extent?
5. Have you observed cases in which normal physiologic cravings such as hunger, or the desire for sweets, have been satisfied by the substitution of other forms of gratification?
6. If you have found such substitution, group the following usual substitutions in order of their popularity as substitution or replacement mechanisms:        

morphine and its derivatives



7. Do you believe that replacement of normal cravings by artificial forms of satisfaction results in the establishment of craving for the replacement material?


Unfortunately, we don't know who Bernays sent this questionnaire to, or how they responded. We can assume, though, that it would have been sent out by a cover group or individual without any references to American Tobacco.


A. A. Brill

Bernays was uniquely situated to incorporate psychoanalytic thought and methods into his endeavours: he was Freud's nephew. Although Bernays' family left Vienna for America (a Vienna now frequently referred to as  "Freud's Vienna") while he was just a child, he stayed with the Freuds occasionally and had a frequent, passionate correspondence with Sigmund. Bernays, for instance, was oversaw the translation and publication of Freud's first American books. (Letters survive which trace out the complicated negotiations involved in getting the works to press. In these letters Freud alternates between being grateful and co-operative, and angrily bitchy — ready to call the whole thing off. Through the proceedings Bernays remains uncharacteristically patient and self-deprecating.)

            Certainly Freud's ideas had a great influence on Bernays, but as Bernays admitted in an interview in 1971, "I ascribe whatever I learned about Freud more to absorption than to studiousness in reading of Freud." So perhaps Bernays didn't bother to read the uncle he had worked so hard to publish. But, as he was able to consult with people who had — experts — it perhaps didn't really matter.

            One of these experts was a protege of Freud's, America's first psychoanalyst, A. A. Brill. In 1928 Bernays convinced American Tobacco to retain Brill as a consultant. Brill was a natural choice — not only was he truly pre-eminent in his field (in America), but he had published an article, "Tobacco and the Individual" in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in 1922.

            In that article, Brill distinguishes between the healthy use of tobacco, which is characterized by an enjoyment of smoking unhindered by any anxiety or conflict, and the unhealthy, neurotic use characterized by a "masturbatic regression to autoeroticism." Brill, himself a smoker, ultimately comes out in favour of the indulgence.

Contrary to the general belief I have never seen a single neurosis or psychosis that could be definitely attributed in any way to tobacco. On the other hand, one is more justified in looking with suspicion on the abstainer, one may think of a physical or nervous disturbance. Most of the fanatical opponents of tobacco that I have known were all bad neurotics. For the average normal individual who uses it moderately — and normals always do — it is as useful and pleasurable as alcohol and other outlets.

I have the urge to analyze Brill's rhetorical slips — the illogical claim that "most of x is all y," seems aggressively defensive. But I won't follow this urge. Instead we'll move back to the actual topic: women and smoking. It seems that it may not be possible for a woman or a "primitive" to be a good, healthy smoker.

The women smokers that one met in former years, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, mostly belonged to the aggressive prostitute type, but as present day social and economic conditions hamper the woman more and more in the exercising of her maternal functions and force her into activities that are essentially unfeminine, she too, gradually takes to smoking. Of the forty-five women smokers that I have questioned, only six really craved smoking, most of the others made a bluff at it, they just imitated Mrs. or Miss so-and-so whom they admired. Two single women told me that the only reason they smoked was because it stopped their bad habit of nail and finger biting. Here it was clearly a continuation of autoerotic activity, while in others it was an expression of the masculine protest. It was an unsuccessful effort to be a man with whom they are forced to compete against their will. Unlike their primitive sisters and modern men few modern women really enjoy smoking and those who do, use it for the same reason as men; it supplies a need.

The next sentence helps us connect the dots to form the appropriate world view. (I searched the article in vain for references to smoking monkeys.)

Viewed in this light, it seems quite natural that the stolid, catatonic looking American Indian who formerly led the same monotonous and rude existence as is still observed among his South American brothers, should have developed the art of smoking, an infantile autoerotic manifestation.

The verdict is clear: smoking is, psychologically speaking, (like alcohol) perfectly healthy for the majority of non-neurotic, modern (that is, white) men who have the capacity to enjoy it for what it is — an enjoyable thing. For all others — those who are unable to develop a true non-neurotic, modern relationship with tobacco's joys — it remains suspect.


Brill's Work for American Tobacco

Brill's first report for American Tobacco lost all overt references to the idea of women smokers as being almost necessarily neurotic. Their adoption of "masculine protest" was seen as social development rather than individual perversion. And while this social development — women abandoning the maternal in the hopeless endeavour of becoming fake men — was usually judged as being highly negative, the context of marketing was able to render it an apparently (almost) value free analysis. Yet all of the negative associations Brill's earlier article had towards women and smoking were still in evidence. But not all was for naught: the strain of Brill having to rephrase his views in a way that would be useful for the company caused him to devise a rhetorical flourish which inspired one of Bernays more legendary campaigns. As Bernays remembers it:

"It is perfectly normal for women to want to smoke cigarettes," Brill advised. The emancipation of women has supressed many of their feminine desires. More women now do the same work as men do. Many women bear no children; those who do bear have fewer children. Feminine traits are masked. Cigarettes, which are equated with men, become torches of freedom.



Torches of Freedom

Brill's report for American Tobacco (on the problem of women smokers) was submitted in 1929. This is how Bernays encapsulated the report in his biography:

"It is perfectly normal for women to want to smoke cigarettes," Brill advised. "The emancipation of women has suppressed many of their feminine desires. More women now do the same work as men do. Many women bear no children; those who do bear have fewer children. Feminine traits are masked. Cigarettes, which are equated with men, become torches of freedom."

Always on the look out for good catch phrases, Bernays hooked on to the idea of promoting cigarettes as "torches of freedom" for women caught in mid-emancipation, semi-sufragettes. And what better thing to do with a torch of freedom than put it in a parade. So, from a simple phrase in Brill's report, Bernays derived inspiration for one of his best known campaigns.

Bernays idea, though logistically complex, was itself simple: a parade of women proudly, publically, defiantly smoking.

The event itself was to take place on Easter Sunday on 5th Avenue in New York. 5th Avenue, America's most prestigious promenade commercially, also contained many prominent churches. As the parade passed them — Saint Thomas's, Saint Patrick's, "the Baptist church where John D. Rockefeller attends" — participants leaving Easter service could light up and join in.

Bernays first step was to recruit participants. What kind of woman would be ideal? Young, certainly, and modern. About half were to have male escorts. Bernays, as thorough as ever, outlined further requirements in an internal memo:

Because it should appear as news with no division of publicity, actresses should be definitely out. On the other hand, if young women who stand for feminism - someone from the Women's Party, say - could be secured, the fact that the movement would be advertised too, would not be bad. . . . While they should be goodlooking, they should not look too "model-y." Three for each church covered should be sufficient. Of course they are not to smoke simply as they come down the church steps. They are to join in the Easter parade, puffing away.

Bernays gathered a list of thirty suitable debutantes through an associate at Vogue. Each of them was sent an initial telegram signed (without reference to American Tobacco or the public relations firm) by Bernays' secretary, Bertha Hunt.

In the interests of equality of the sexes and to fight another sex taboo I and other young women will light another torch of freedom by smoking cigarettes while strolling on Fifth Avenue Easter Sunday. We are doing this to combat the silly prejudice that the cigarette is suitable for the home, the restaurant, the taxicab, the theater lobby but never, no, never for the sidewalk. Women smokers and their escorts will stroll from Forty-Eighth Street to Fifty-Fourth Street on Fifth Avenue between Eleven-Thirty and One O'Clock.

At the same time, advertisements were placed in several New York papers. These were in the form of a letter signed by leading feminist Ruth Hale. While the "personal" letters were somewhat chatty, Hale's public recruitment is downright polemical.

                        Light another torch of freedom!
                        Fight another sex taboo!


It is perfectly true that there is not as much sex discrimination as there was. In many of the important factors of life woman has gained her equality with men. This is true in politics, in most of the professions, certainly in business. We have women ministers, taxicab drivers and even in stock brokerage board rooms.


Why an inequality should exist in smoking on the streets, when it is customary in restaurants, theater lobbies and male driven taxicabs is incongruous. Such discrimination is a senseless taboo and should be overcome even though it is not an important discrimination.

That is why we are inserting this advertisement asking every woman interested in breaking down this senseless taboo preventing us from indulging in the pleasure of smoking on the public highways, to join with us in a manifestation on Easter Sunday . . . Communicate with us for the details of how and when.


Light another torch of freedom!
                    Fight another sex taboo!


Many of the thirty initial prospective recruits responded through Raymond Service Inc. These were forwarded to Bernays.


Miss Eliza Jane Winn said she was sorry she could not accept the invitation, as she was going to be very tired that day and wanted to sleep.

Another young lady called, who refused to give her name, and said that she would not consent to parade because we would not divulge the source of the list.

Miss Mary Kinsella, 20 East 88th Street, was highly insulted; demands an apology, for the writing of the letter. Demands to know who suggested her name.


Not to suggest that all the responses were so negative — they're just the most interesting, quote-worthy ones. The willing paraders assembled Good Friday in Bernays' office for a final briefing. Luckies were issued to the rebellious debutantes. Bernays instructed the participants as if he were a theater director blocking out a scene. But even with such extensive and thorough planning, many things can go wrong. Amazingly, nothing did. The parade played itself out perfectly. And newspapers across America picked up on the story. This version is from the United Press.


Just as Miss Federica Freylinghusen, conspicuous in a tailored outfit of dark grey, pushed her was thru the jam in front of St. Patrick's, Miss Bertha Hunt and six colleagues struck another blow in behalf of the liberty of women. Down Fifth Avenue they strolled, puffing at cigarettes. Miss hunt issued the following communique from the smoke-clouded battlefield: ÒI hope that we have started something and that these torches of freedom, with no particular brand favored, will smash the discriminatory taboo on cigarettes for women and that our sex will go on breaking down all discriminations.


Over the next weeks, spontaneous torches of freedom gatherings occurred in many American towns and cities, resparking the controversy in the nation's editorial pages. Although the consensus was generally against them "adopting the coarser habits of men," it became increasingly acceptable for women to smoke in public.


Establishing Normalcy

Burt G. Wilder, a neuro-anatomist at Cornell, established a collection of the brains of prominent people for use in comparative anatomy research. The basic premise of this type of research was simple enough: a famous pianist, say, will have a brain in which the anatomical area responsible for musical ability will be larger, more prominent, more developed. Thus, by comparing the brain of someone with extraordinary abilities with a "normal" brain, a map of functional brain anatomy can be established.

            But Wilder also publicly spoke against the health effects of tobacco. Upon his death his brain became part of the collection and was charted for developed and under-developed (atrophied) areas. Here is how Bernays spun out the results in a press release "CRUSADERS AND ATROPHIES." Notice how he deftly ties everything together with a reference to his recent torches of freedom campaign.

An explanation of why crusaders and reformers mix danger and safety is seen in a recent article by Rupert Hughes in the New York American, in which he states that the fierce hostility of tobacco reformers is laid to a sense of smell gone wrong.


The late Burt G. Wilder, many years professor at Cornell University, who inaugurated the famous Cornell collection of brains of celebrated people which has been so invaluable to research, was a life-long crusader against tobacco. A study of the brain convolutions of Professor Wilder, made by Dr. James Papez, his successor as brain curator at Cornell, reveals a long-standing atrophy of the olfactory center, which controls the sense of smell. Thus, long after Dr. Wilder's death, it is found that his intense hatred of tobacco and constant crusading against it was not from a sense of scientific or social betterment, but rather due to a defective and ill-nourished sense of smell.

            This explains not only Dr. Wilder but many other — perhaps all other — enemies of tobacco. Accurate, scientific research on the brain of a crusader has disclosed the fact of inability to enjoy tobacco to be due merely to an incompletely developed olfactory center.

            Despite, or perhaps because of, the activities of anti-cigarette crusaders, the use of cigarettes in increasing rapidly in the United States. An indication of the attitude of the unatrophied majority is seen in the recent statement of a New York judge before whom a woman was brought for a trial for smoking in the street in her own automobile. He announced there was no law against smoking in the streets and that a woman has as much right as a man to smoke.

            Perhaps, says Mr. Hughes, what is needed is not an anti-cigarette crusade, but an anti-catarrh crusade. What is needed is not more anti-crusades - but more examinations by brain surgeons so that atrophies may be discovered and properly treated without infringing on the rights and desires of normal, liberty loving people.



Study of His Brain Reveals Reason for Cornell ProfessorÕs Anti-Smoking Crusade

Special to The New York Times
ITHICA, N.Y., May 7.-The results of a comparative study of the brain of Professor Burt M. Wilder of Cornell, who died in 1925, were made public today at the university. The brain is a part of the collection which Dr. Wilder established over forty years ago. The study was made by Dr. James Papez, the curator of the collection, whose report on the brain of Helen Gardener, a prominent suffragist, confirmed the assertion of many women, "that the brain of a woman need not be inferior to that of a man."

Dr. Wilder's brain, which was compared with the brains of forty eminent men and women in the Cornell collection, corresponded closely to that of other scholars. It further confirmed the belief that the size of the brain is not a measure of intellect, its weight of 1,200 grams not being large in comparison with brains of other scholars or the brains of average individuals.

In the pronounced development of certain areas of the brain which have come to be associated with scholarly attainments, that of the Cornell professor was marked. Dr. Papez found that, "the greater length and depth of the furrows in the frontal, occipital and temporal regions appears to show that these local developments favoured in a very important way the acquisition of cultural and scholastic habits.

"Dr. Wilder's brain showed splendid development in the speech area, which is located in the lower frontal region. In the visual area, located in the back of the brain, and in the center of hearing, located in the temporal region, the brain large relative dimensions in comparison with others in the collection."

From these facts Dr. Papez deduced "it appears reasonable to infer that his musical as well as his literary abilities were in some way dependant on this endowment. In the brain of Helen Gardener, who was not musical, the temporal measurements do not indicate a development above the average."

The examination served to explain Dr. Wilder's long-standing and vehement abhorrence of tobacco smoke in any form. A non-smoker, he crusaded against the smoking of others. His brain showed an atrophy of the olphactory center, devoted to the functions of smell. The atrophy was of such advanced degree that Dr. Papez infers it was of long standing and explains Dr. WilderÕs lack of appreciation of tobacco.